HTC Vive XR Elite is cheaper than expected, but still overpriced

The HTC Vive XR Elite was announced at CES 2023 as a virtual/mixed reality headset with an incredibly small form factor but a disappointing price. CES hosts some of the biggest tech announcements of the year, and a new headset from HTC was announced ahead of the event. Rumors had it priced around $1400, which would put the device just under $1500 for the latest Meta Quest Pro. Now that the XR Elite has been officially announced, the price drops below the rumored price, but it’s still way above what it should be.

Virtual reality has been on a dry spell for the past few years, with minor hardware innovations leaving the Meta juggernaut with little to no competition. In the standalone VR space, the Quest 2 remained untouched until the Pico 4 was released in October 2022 as a real alternative thanks to a comparable price of around $425. With the HTC Vive XR Elite, the company seeks to capture more of the standalone market share. But even with the XR Elite’s advanced features and impressive form factor, its $1,099 price tag makes it a tough buy for most consumers.

HTC XR Elite specs and price explained

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HTC has been making VR headsets since 2016, when they released the original Vive in collaboration with Valve, and then the VIVE Pro 2. With the XR Elite, HTC improves on its previous hardware in many ways. At about 625 grams, the XR Elite has slightly higher technical specifications than the Meta Quest 2, but weighs almost 25% less. This is partially possible through the use of thinner pancake lenses and HTC’s decision to move the battery to the back of the headband, acting as a counterweight to help with weight distribution.

The HTC XR Elite sits somewhere between the Quest 2 and the Quest Pro in terms of specs and features. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, 1920 x 1920 resolution per eye (3840 x 1920 pixels combined), 90Hz refresh rate, up to 110 degree field of view, 12 GB memory, 128 GB storage and Wi-Fi 6 + 6E. The XR Elite also features a depth sensor for enhanced mixed reality experiences and allows users to connect to a PC wirelessly or via USB-C cable for PCVR gaming.

Outstanding features include a foldable design and magnetic faceplate, plus IPD and dioptric dials that allow for easy adjustment to different eye positions and prescriptions. The diopter allows those who wear glasses to enjoy clear images without them, although the range of this adjustment is no more than -6. There’s also a USB-C port on the bottom of the headset for external additions like an accessory that adds face and eye tracking to the Metaverse.

Despite all the smart design choices and impressive specs of the XR Elite, the device is spoiled by the fact that the HTC XR Elite costs almost three times as much as a Quest 2. At $1,099, you’d think the device would compete with the Quest Pro, but considering the XR Elite is aimed at consumers and the Quest Pro is aimed at businesses, the price is just too high. The Quest 2’s starting price of $399 places it more in the mainstream segment, unlike the XR Elite.

The XR Elite’s small size is certainly its biggest selling point, along with HTC’s stance on data privacy – reiterating in its announcement that it’s not interested in selling anyone’s personal data. This is a clear blow to Meta as the company continues to come under scrutiny over its sale of personal data to advertisers for financial gain. It’s becoming increasingly important to many users, so even at its high price, it may be reason enough for some to choose the HTC over the Meta.

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